The MSc offers a range of modules designed specifically to provide fundamental knowledge and practical skills in human factors and ergonomics.
A thorough understanding of human factors/ergonomics is critical to the successful design and implementation of products, workplaces, jobs and systems.
This module focuses on the physical characteristics of people (eg body size, strength, flexibility, vision and hearing abilities) and considers how to account for an individual's fundamental needs, capabilities and limitations.
Ultimately, such an understanding will lead to products, workplaces, jobs and systems which promote productivity, health, safety, comfort, etc.
This module covers:
- structure and functioning of the human body
- anthropometry (human body dimensions) and product/workplace design
- biomechanics (loadings on the human body)
- work-related upper-limb disorders
- manual materials handling
- risk assessment for work-related musculoskeletal disorders
- designing and assessing environments to account for visual, acoustic, thermal and vibration factor
Cognitive Ergonomics in Design
This module covers the following topics:
- cognitive psychology and ergonomics
- the human as an information processor: memory and attention, mental models
- human workload
- displays, controls, consoles and control rooms
- decision making, automation
- situation awareness
- problem-solving and artificial intelligence
- decision support systems, decision-making biases
- situated cognition and joint cognitive systems
Studying Human Performance
This module aims to give a broad review of the measurement techniques which can be used in ergonomic analysis and evaluation of systems or products, together with an understanding of the need for experimental design and control in order to obtain valid and meaningful results. It also provides a theoretical basis for techniques which may be practised during laboratory work and exercises in other human factors modules.
The module covers:
- Introduction to experimental design; experimental controls; selection and recruitment of subjects; user trials; ethical considerations
- Observational methods: direct and indirect observation; recording techniques; measurement of behaviour; activity sampling
- Subjective measurements: ranking methods, rating scales, application in interviews and questionnaires
- Task analysis: task description; tabular and hierarchical task analysis; applications
- Introduction to SPSS
- Descriptive statistics
- Statistical analysis: Types of data; Normal distribution; Non-parametric tests; Parametric 2 samples tests, Correlation and regression, Chi Square, ANOVA
Simulation, Virtual Reality and Advanced Human-Machine Interface
For human factors/ergonomics work, simulation tools can enable designers, managers and end-users to experience products and systems in realistic, interactive environments. Such advancements have significant cost implications, enabling designs and their implications to be visualised early in the development life cycle. In addition, virtual/augmented reality and other advanced human-machine interfaces (HMIs) are being developed in many different industries to support different user needs.
This module will provide you with the knowledge and skills required to understand and utilise computers as human factors tools for understanding peoples’ interactions with new technology. Moreover, the module will consider HMIs that are increasingly common in modern life and frequently designed and evaluated using simulation techniques.
The module is a mix of practical and research-oriented content, and you will make extensive use of the simulation facilities and on-going research projects within the Human Factors Research Group and elsewhere in the University.
- virtual reality technologies/environments/interfaces
- augmented reality; fidelity and validity of simulators
- presence factors for simulation
- understanding and minimising simulator sickness
- multimodal interfaces including the use of natural language and gesture interfaces, computers and collaborative/social interfaces, accessibility, in-car interfaces
This module takes a human factors design perspective on HCI considering the overall human-computer system. A highly practical stance is taken and the module will follow a typical user-centred design process, commencing with lectures and accompanying method-focussed sessions on understanding user requirements, progressing to design work and finally objective and subjective interface testing approaches. These sessions will align closely with the coursework application areas.
- introduction to HCI
- usability and user experience
- understanding user requirements
- context of use analysis
- design guidelines and principles
- designing for user acceptance
- lo and hi-fidelity prototyping
- user and non-user-based approaches to interface testing
Advanced Engineering Research Project Organisation and Design (spring)
A project-oriented module involving a review of publications and views on a topic allied to the chosen specialist subject. The module will also involve organisation and design of the main project. Skills will be acquired through workshops and seminars that will include:
- Further programming in MATLAB and /or MSExcel Macros
- Project planning and use of Microsoft Project
- Measurement and error analysis
- Development of laboratory skills including safety and risk assessment
Students will select a further set of specialist seminars from, e.g.:
- Meshing for computational engineering applications
- Modelling using CAE packages
- Use of CES Selector software
- Specific laboratory familiarisation
- Use of MSVisio software for process flow
- Use of HYSYS process modelling software
- Use of PSpice to simulate analogue and digital circuits
The specialist seminars will be organised within the individual MSc courses.
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Work Systems and Safety (spring)
This modules aims to give an understanding of systems approaches to the design and analysis of effective and safe work, primarily in the context of industrial systems but also in relation to major projects, public and social systems and digital systems.
It is vital that students learn that technical, human, organizational and economic factors must be addressed when understanding the operation and potential failure in existing systems, and in developing requirements, implementation and evaluation approaches for social and socio-technical systems, and for systems of systems.
In this module, particular attention will be paid to distributed (in time and space) systems and ones with elements of automated processes (all of which will have to interact with human and organisational elements at some point and time). The potential causes of accidents and of human error are explained, and an introduction given to methods of reporting and investigating accidents and techniques for analysing accidents and systems reliability which will lead to the design of safer organisations and work systems.
Topics covered include:
- risk and risk perception
- risk assessment and management
- accident models and accident causation
- causes of human error
- epidemiology, accident reporting and analysis
- accident prevention
- human reliability assessment
- safety climate and culture
- safety systems management
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Method of Assessment:
Individual Postgraduate Project (summer)
This project involves students undertaking an original, independent, research study into an engineering or industrial topic appropriate to their specific MSc programme. The project should be carried out in a professional manner and may be undertaken on any topic which is relevant to the MSc programme, as agreed by the relevant Course Director and module convenor.
The project has several aims, beyond reinforcing information and methodology presented in the taught modules; the student is expected to develop skills in research, investigation, planning, evaluation and oral and written communication.
Final reporting will take the form of a written account including a literature review and an account of the student's contribution. A presentation will be made to academic staff towards the end of the project.
Method and Frequency of Class:
There will be a one hour introductory session/session via Moodle . All other activities are arranged on an individual basis between the student and the project supervisor.
Method of Assessment:
||Interim Report (Marked by project supervisor)
||Supervisor assessment of student input and professionalism (marked by project supervisor)
||15 minute oral presentation (peer marked and with 1 staff)
||Dissertation (10,000 word limit)
The project area is flexible and will be supervised by an academic member of staff
Postgraduate Project: previous projects have included:
- CCTV and eye witness testimony
- Implementing ergonomics in engineering design
- Sub-sea engineering supervision
- Manual handling on construction sites
- What makes a Virtual Environment usable?
- Assembly ergonomics for automotive design engineers
- Data visualisation and 3D displays
- Situational awareness measurement in rail traffic control
- Distance judgement in vehicle navigation systems
- Digital human modelling
The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. This course page may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.
Advanced Methods in Psychology (spring)
This module provides an insight into some more advanced or specialised techniques of data collection, organisation and analysis in psychological research (eg eye-tracking, EEG, fMRI, TMS, computational modelling and diary methodologies).
Workshops and lectures will include implementation of analytical procedures in, for example, specialised data management and statistical packages, and on specialised data-gathering equipment and software.
This module considers aspects of experimental and theoretical biomechanics including:
- Mechanical properties of biological tissues
- Hard tissues including bone
- Soft tissues including cartilage, tendon, disc and blood vessels
- Time dependent behaviour
- Experimental techniques
- Impact mechanics
- Custom implants
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Applied Psychology: Road User Behaviour
The course will cover road user behaviour from a number of psychological perspectives. Topics will include a critical review of brain scanning studies of driving, the visual skills required for driving, the effects of aging and experience, distraction (from in-car devices such as mobile phones, and from out-of-car objects such as road-side advertisements), and the skill of hazard perception (and whether this can be adequately measured as part of the licensing procedure). The course will also cover memory for driving events (from everyday driving to road traffic accidents), influences of emotion on driving (e.g. does the aggression-frustration hypothesis explain road rage?), and social and individual differences related to crash risk (e.g. sensation-seeking and risk propensity).
Fundamentals of Information Visualisation
Information Visualisation is the process of extracting knowledge from complex data, and presenting it to a user in a manner that this appropriate to their needs. This module provides a foundational understanding of some important issues in information visualisation design. You will learn about the differences between scientific and creative approaches to constructing visualisations, and consider some important challenges such as the representation of ambiguous or time-based data. You will also learn about psychological theories that help explain how humans process information, and consider their relevance to the design of effective visualisations.
If you want to learn how to design and implement your own interactive information visualisation, you should also take the linked module G53IVP (Information Visualisation Project). Together, these two modules form an integrated 20 credit programme of study.
Information Visualisation Project
In this module you will gain practical experience of how to design and evaluate a distinctive interactive visualisation which presents information gathered from a complex and interesting data source.
You will gain experience in web-based technologies that enable the implementation of multi-layered and interactive information visualisations, supported through lab work that introduces specific features of these technologies.
The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. This prospectus may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.
As technology becomes ever more complex and pervasive within our society, it is the ‘human factors’ in engineering design that often dictate success or failure.
The diversity in humans - in abilities, limitations, experiences, expectations, behaviours, and so forth - creates many challenges for researchers and practitioners in industry. By adopting a ‘human-centred’ approach, there may be many benefits for customers and/or employees, such as better usability for products, more efficient work processes, safer environments, more engaging product experiences, and so on.
By neglecting human factors and ergonomics issues, companies are likely to encounter major reliability failures, accidents, labour relations problems and unsuccessful introductions of products and technology.
This 12 month MSc course requires 180 credits of material, of which 120 are taken as taught modules in the autumn and spring semesters. These modules provide a theoretical basis on specific topics concerning human factors and ergonomics and then progress to allow you develop practical skills in the application of knowledge. Your learning will typically be structured around lectures, seminars, workshop, laboratory sessions and group work.
Over the summer period you will undertake a 60-credit individual research project, which is intended to help you integrate your knowledge, methodology and practical skills in an area that reflects your interests. Many of our students conduct these projects in collaboration with an industrial company, based on our many research links within the Human Factors Research Group.
Part-time option and accreditation
It is possible to take the course part-time over two to three years and several students successfully follow this route each year. In this case, you can choose the modules that suit your individual circumstances for each semester according to the University timetable. Typically, a part-time student will need to be present at the University for two days/week during term time.
The course is accredited as the educational qualification for The Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors.
Hear from our students
In the videos below Human Factors and Ergonomics students talk about their experience of the course and life at Nottingham:
This course is accredited as the educational qualification for Membership of the Institute for Ergonomics and Human Factors.
Our graduating MSc students are very much in demand with employers.
A number of technology-driven companies (eg Jaguar LandRover, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, AWE) are in regular contact with staff in the department seeking highly qualified and capable individuals.
As well as offering you the chance to pursue a fulfilling career within industry and related areas, this MSc course provides an excellent foundation for further research and a significant number of our students continue their studies to PhD level and beyond.
Average starting salary and career progression
In 2017, 92.3% of postgraduates in the department who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £28,000 with the highest being £32,000.
* Known destinations of full-time home higher degree postgraduates, 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.
Career Prospects and Employability
The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and can offer you a head-start when it comes to your career.
Our Careers and Employability Service offers a range of services including advice sessions, employer events, recruitment fairs and skills workshops – and once you have graduated, you will have access to the service for life.
*The Graduate Market 2013-2017, High Fliers Research
Careers support and advice
We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students whatever your course, mode of study or future career plans.
You can access our Careers and Employability Service during your studies and after you graduate. Expert staff will help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.
More than 1,500 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.
As a student on this course, there are no additional costs for your budget, apart from your tuition fees and living expenses. Lab and safety equipment is provided for free by the Department.
You should be able to access all of the books you’ll need through our libraries and it is not usual for students to buy their own copies. Any field trips are also funded by the Department. Please note that these figures are approximate and subject to change.
Scholarships and bursaries
Government loans for masters courses
Masters student loans of up to £10,906 are available for taught and research masters courses. Applicants must ordinarily live in the UK or EU.
International and EU students
Masters scholarships are available for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure you apply for your course with enough time.
We provide guidance on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study. You can also access specific funding opportunities, entry requirements and other resources for students from specific countries.